Q4: What advice would you give to other schools taking on the mastery approach?
It requires a certain level of trust. I remember one of the first weeks that Year 1 attempted to journal. I went into one of the classes out of curiosity and noticed the teacher was looking very pale. It didn’t look like how we’d dreamt it would look like, and it was very easy at those points to panic. But when you look at the research, you have faith in the research and you say, “No, we will get there, and don’t worry.”
Also, if there’s a change of personnel and they’ve had no Maths — No Problem! training, I would encourage other headteachers to think about how they will get them up to speed as quickly as possible. If they’re a key person and they don’t like the programme, the headteacher might notice the mastery approach become less secure. Having a constant watch over the mastery approach and protecting it, would be my advice.
We also often revisit our practice and I recommend other schools to do this too. Rosie and Ryan will go into lessons and have a look at what’s going on, not to judge a lesson, but to work alongside colleagues in more of a coaching fashion. That has transformed our programme.
It is challenging sometimes. You’ve got cost pressures, standards don’t look so good, the Year 5 and Year 6 teachers may be shaking their heads going, “It’s not quite working as we want it to work.” And that’s when it can drop off very quickly. But we know that if you can develop that culture over time, standards are at least maintained, the enjoyment of maths is promoted, children above all see themselves as mathematicians. Whether they are good mathematicians or ones that find maths a little bit more challenging, they see themselves as mathematicians, which is transformational.
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